Francis Cautions Against the Sins of Disinformation, Slander, and Defamation

Source: FSSPX News

St. Francis de Sales preaching

St. Francis de Sales is invoked as the patron saint of Catholic writers, and more widely of journalists and all those who serve the truth and defend doctrine. His liturgical feast is on January 29.


A little over a month ago, on December 16, 2017, the Holy Father received some 300 Italian journalists, members of the Italian Periodical Press Union and the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies, for an audience at the Vatican. He particularly promoted and encouraged small press groups that practice journalism without seeking to shock or create a sensation, but rather to encourage their readers’ sense of analysis.

The pope pointed out that the mission of journalists is “among the most important in today’s world.” Indeed, the powerful media groups form public opinion and play a decisive role in democratic countries. 

He shared his vision of the profession of journalism and the care journalists should take not to be “constantly at the mercy of easy slogans” and “extemporaneous information campaigns, which reveal the intention to manipulate reality.” With this ideal in mind, Francis encouraged small press groups that incarnate “a journalism closely connected to local dynamics” and less inclined to “generate mass information.”

The pope also denounced the “sins of communication”: disinformation, slander, and defamation. “They are very grave sins, which damage the heart of the journalist and harm people,” he declared.

The mission of Christian journalists, concluded the Holy Father, consists in interpreting events “in the light of the Gospel and of the teaching of the Church”; these are the “compass of their particular way of carrying out journalism.” May we remark that this compass must remain faithful to the Gospel and not seek to impose a new interpretation adapted to our times.

It was Pope Pius XI who officially declared St. Francis de Sales the heavenly patron of

...all those Catholics who, through the publication either of journals or of other writings, promote and defend the Christian doctrine. For them it is necessary in discussions to imitate and maintain that vigor, joined with moderation and charity, which is the peculiar characteristic of Francis.